The Art Of Storytelling

13 02 2018

Storytelling is the essential human activity. The harder the situation, the more essential it is.                Tim O´Brien

“The symbol; The New One Minute Manager’s symbol is intended to remind each of us to take a minute out of our day to look into the faces of the people we lead and manage. And to realize that they are our most important resources”.

This book really caught my eye as it is written in such a simple and easily understandable way through storytelling.

Throughout the story the authors reveal three very practical secrets; One Minute Goal, One Minute Praising’s, and One Minute Re-Directs, which they call the new, third secret.

This book will help organizations find new ways to adapt and prosper as well as find meaning in our work by giving us inspiration. It is based on studies on behavioral sciences and medicine which support why these methods are of great success.

Ken Blanchard, one of the two authors of this book, is considered a highly influential leadership expert who has co-authored 60 books, including “Raving Fans” and “Gung Ho!” (With Sheldon Bowles).

The second author, Spencer Johnson, is admired as both a leader and an author, and is maybe best known for writing the bestselling book “Who Moved My Cheese ?” He is also seen as an expert on finding simple, effective solutions to complex subjects and problems.

To make this book interesting, the authors are telling us a story about a bright young man searching for a special kind of manager who could lead and manage in todays rapidly changing world.

The young man wants to find a manager that can both encourage the people and make the organization successful and profitable. He had already spoken to many managers who had tried to deal with this rapidly changing world; executives, government, administrators, entrepreneurs and so on.

He wasn’t always pleased with what he saw according to how people manage people. He had witnessed ‘tough’ managers where the organisations seemed to win at the expense of the people.

Some of the managers thought they were good managers while some thought otherwise. The young man asked brief and interesting questions to the managers in their offices. He wanted to know what kind of managers they thought they were. The answers varied only slightly, when he heard their pride in their voices. Some of the answers would be; “I’m a bottom-line manager. “I keep on top of the situation !”. “Hard-nosed”. “Realistic”. “Profit-minded”.

Authors; “They said they had always managed that way and saw no reason to change. He heard the pride in their voices and their interest in the results”.

On the other hand the young man had heard about managers who had succeeded with their people and lost with their organizations. These kind of managers said; “I’m a participative manager”. “Supportive”. “Considerate”. “Humanistic”. Authors; “They also said they had always managed that way and saw no reason to change. He heard the pride in their voices and their interest in people. But he was disturbed. It was as though most managers in the world were still managing the way they had always done and were primarily interested either in results or in people”.

The young man describes the autocratic manager and the democratic manager. The autocratic is described as result oriented, and the democratic as interested in their people. “The young man thought each of these types-the ‘tough’ autocratic and the ‘nice’ democrat was only partially effective. It’s like being half a manager he thought”.

The story continues with the young man still searching in hope of finding the effective manager, but he almost gave up searching, thinking that he would never find this mythical person. He had however, heard some rumours about a special manager that people liked to work for and that produced great results.

He wanted to check this amazing manager out for himself, and, to make a long story short, he finally met him. During their meeting the young man asked the manager many questions about his managing style, and was impressed by all the interesting answers. The amazing manager described himself as the ‘New One Minute Manager’. He used this nickname because both him and his staff had found new ways to great results in a shorter amount of time. The young man spoke to the rest of the manager’s team and had interesting conversations with them as well. He learned a lot.

Among other things, he learned about the three secrets to One Minute Management; One Minute Goals, One Minute Praising’s and One Minute Re-Directs.

One Minute Goals: “Make it clear what the goals are. Show what good behaviour looks like. Put each goal on one page. Quickly review goals frequently. Encourage people to notice what they’re doing, and see if it matches their goals. If not, urge them to change what they’re doing and win.

One Minute Praising’s: “Praise the behavior. Do it soon, be specific. Say how good you feel about it. Pause to let people feel good too. Encourage them to keep up the good work.”

One Minute Re-Direct: “Re-clarify and agree on goals. Confirm what happened. Describe the mistake soon. Say how concerned you feel. Pause to let people feel their own concern. Tell them they’re better than the mistake, and you value them. When its over, its over.”

Towards the end of the story, the curious young man finds himself becoming a One Minute Manager. He was great at it because he led and managed by example, not because he thought or talked in a certain manner. He managed in simple ways, through the three secrets of one minute management, and by asking brief, but important questions. He was honest, he worked hard, all while laughing and enjoying himself.

The story ends with the young man being contacted by a young woman, who, much like himself many years ago, wants to ask him about his managing style. Just like in real life, this shows the importance of passing on our lessons and knowledge.  (Ref. The New One Minute Manger, by Ken Blanchard and Spencer Johnson)

As shown through this book, a good story engage people and is a great way to learn and share experiences and knowledge.

This book is not the only good example on the importance of storytelling in organizations. Another great storyteller is the guru Robert McKee. He is a highly sought after lecturer, internationally. He has spent the last three decades of his life being an educator and a mentor to everything from screenwriters, to poets, to directors all over the globe. He is called “the Aristotle of our time” because of his insight into the substance, style, structure and principles of the grand art of stories. He says; “Storytelling has to be true”. This short, yet so profound quote explains the simple truth of storytelling, it always has to be true.

McKee; “Good story means something worth telling that the world wants to hear”. He makes us aware that finding a good story is a lonely task. And even though we might love great stories with inspiring characters and a worlds full of passion and bliss, this isn’t enough. The goal has to be a good story well told.

Good stories are important inspirational sources for people, it could for example be implemented in knowledge sharing or you can gain new wisdom from them. People can recognize episodes from stories and they can draw their own pictures from them. (Ref. Storytelling from my blog)

From his article in Harvard Business Review, Joseph Grenny writes about great storytelling. Grenny; “Most storytelling is brief. It involves using concrete examples that reframe a moment by personifying human consequences. People’s feelings about their work are only partly about the work itself. They are equally, if not more so, about how they frame their work. do they see it as empty compliance? Or do they see it as sacred duty? If you change the frame you change the feeling. And nothing changes frames faster than a story.” (Ref. Harvard Business Review, Great Storytelling Connects Employees to Their work, by Joseph Grenny)

Paul J. Zak says in another article from Harvard Business Review, that many business people have discovered the power of storytelling in organizations, and in a practical sense. Author; “Many of us know from Joseph Campbell’s work that enduring stories tend to share a dramatic arc in which a character struggles and eventually finds heretofore unknown abilities and uses these to triumph over adversity; my work shows that the brain is highly attracted to this story style”. (Ref. Harvard Business Review, Why Your Brain Loves Good Storytelling, by Paul J. Zak)

Zak, tells us that storytelling is a great tool to use if you want to motivate, persuade or be remembered. You start with a story of human struggle which eventually end with triumph. Zak; “It will capture peoples hearts-by first attracting their brains”.

To finish this article, I will leave with a quote from the man that says it best, McKee:

Write every day, line by line, page by page, hour by hour. Do this despite fear. For above all else, beyond imagination and skill, what the world asks of you is courage to risk rejection, ridicule and failure. As you follow the quest for stories told with meaning and beauty, study thoughtfully but write boldly. Then, like the hero of the fable, your dance will dazzle the world”.

Author; Inger Lise E Greger, MSc in Change Management

 

 

 

 





Human- Biases- In- Organisations.

20 10 2017

I find that when you open the door toward openness and transparency, a lot of people will follow you through.   Kirsten Gillibrand

“The more people can see what is happening – the good, the bad, the ugly – the more effective they are at deciding the appropriate ways of handling things”. (Ray Dalio)

Let’s take a look at one of many definitions of the meaning of bias; “A particular tendency, trend, inclination, feeling, or opinion, especially one that is preconceived or unreasoned: illegal bias against older job applicants; the magazines bias toward art rather than photography; our strong bias in favour of the idea”.

Bridgewater Associates founded by Ray Dalio in 1975, is the largest hedge fund in the world. Dalio’s philosophy consists of radical transparency into the company.

Dalio, got reactions from three of his top confidants that he was hurting the company by being too honest. His action to resolve this problem was to meet employees individually and find a solution through discussions on how to treat one another. His goal was to create a culture of sharing ideas without creating lasting conflict, as well as engaging employees in thoughtful disagreements.  From this article in Harvard Business Review; “Radical Transparency Can Reduce Bias – but Only If It’s Done Right, Francesca Gino is a professor at Harvard Business School, she gives us some examples through Dalio’s ideas and believes in openness and transparency.

Francesca refers to Dalio where he says; “I think the greatest tragedy of mankind is that people have ideas and opinions in their heads but don’t have a process for properly examining these ideas to find out what’s true. That creates a world of distortions. That’s relevant to what we do, and I think it’s relevant to all decision making. So when I say I believe in radical truth and radical transparency, all I mean is we take things that ordinarily people would hide and we put them on the the table, particularly mistakes, problems, and weaknesses. We put those on the table, and we look at them together. We don’t hide them.”

Here another interesting article; Outsmart Your Own Biases (Jack B. Soll, Katherine L. Milkman, and John W. Payne, Harvard Business Review). The authors gives us theirs view on biases and it’s challenges. “We are all susceptible to such biases, especially when we’re fatigued, stressed, or multitasking. Just think of a CEO who’s negotiating a merger while also under pressure from lawyers to decide on a plant closing from colleagues to manage layoffs. In situations like this, we’re mentally, emotionally, and physically spent. We cope by relying even more heavily on intuitive, system 1 judgements and less on careful reasoning. Decision making becomes faster and simpler, but quality often suffers”.

Let us take a closer look at the meaning of system 1 and system 2 thinking:

System 1 thinking; are associated with automatic judgements which stem from associations stored in our memories, you can choose to work logically with the information available. The authors makes us aware of the importance of system 1 thinking in critical situations and for surviving- “It’s what makes you swerve to avoid a car accident”. Authors; “But as psychologist Daniel Kahneman has shown, it’s also a common source of bias that can result in poor decision making, because our intuitions frequently lead us astray”.

System 2 thinking; “essentially, deliberate reasoning gone awry. Here the authors are talking about cognitive limitations, and an example of limitations can be laziness, and people may focus on the wrong things as well as failing to seek out relevant information”.

In Francesca’s article where she say that scientific evidence confirms Dalio’s belief ; “as human beings, we tend to evaluate information in a biased manner. For instance, we often fall prey to what psychologists and decision researchers call-confirmation bias: “the tendency to focus on evidence that confirms our beliefs and assumptions rather than looking for data that contradicts it”.

Francesca, says that such biases weakens our judgements as well as decisions.

When confronted with our biases, we have difficulties to listen to peoples feedback and learning from it, especially when it’s inconsistent with the way we view ourselves at work. Francesca; “We tend to strengthen bonds only with people who see our positive qualities. Why ? When others provide evidence that is inconsistent with how we view ourselves or our ideas, we find that information threatening. Our natural reaction is to remove the threat-which can mean dislocating from the source of the information”.

In the other article the authors talk about risk taking and says; “Because most of us tend to be highly overconfident in our estimates, it’s important to ‘nudge’ ourselves to allow for risk and uncertainty”.

Further on Jack. Soll, Katherine L. Milkman, and John W. Payne suggests three methods that are especially useful; Make three estimates, use premortems and take on outside view:

The three methods in short.

The problem; Cognitive biases muddy our decision making. We rely too heavily on intuitive, automatic judgements, and even when we try to use reason, our logic is often lazy or flawed”.

The causes; “Instead of explaining risks and uncertainties, we seek closure-it’s much easier. This narrows our thinking about what could happen in the future, what our goals are, and how we might achieve them”.

The solution; “By knowing which biases tend to trip us up and using certain tricks and tools to outsmart them, we can broaden our thinking and make better choices”.

These three methods are useful and keeps you going in the right direction if wisely used.

Francesca says; “Through radical transparency, Dalio has encouraged a culture where people know it’s important to challenge one another’s views, regardless of rank, and do so regularly”. Here the author tells us that this approach will work if people discuss their ideas openly, even if you have to tell someone about their mistakes. Francesca; ” When transparency unveils our universal human biases, we are more likely to benefit as individuals. Our organisations will benefit as well”.

Both of these interesting articles illustrates how to handle biases as well as giving great advice on how to handle challenging  situations.

“Even the smartest people exhibit biases in their judgements and choices. It’s foolhardy to think we can overcome them through sheer will. But we can anticipate and outsmart them by nudging ourselves in the right direction when it’s time to make a call”. (Jack B. Soll, Katherine L. Milkman and John P. Payne)

Honest communication is built on truth and integrity and upon respect of the one for the other     Benjamin E. Mays

Source; Harvard Business Review

Author, Inger Lise E Greger/Master of Science in Change Management

 

 





Leadership And The Act Of Influencing and Inspiring Others.

31 10 2015

Leadership is influence.     ——- John C. Maxwell

Transformative and resilient leaders has according to Brené Brown three things in common; “First, they recognise the central role that relationships and story play in culture and strategy, and they stay curious about their own emotions, thoughts, and behaviours. Second, they understand and stay curious about how emotions, thoughts, and behaviours are connected in the people they lead, and how those factors affect relationships and perception. And, third, they have the ability and willingness to lean in to discomfort and vulnerability”. (Rising strong 2015, Brené Brown)

As a leader you are in a unique position to make people interested in their work. A leader’s role among other things is to make your workers interested and inspired. We influence others most of the time in our life, both in public as well as in the private atmosphere. Some common examples are when we are making a presentation, nodding our heads, sharing our ideas with a colleague or customer or shaking hands.

Terry R Bacon, has written the book; Elements of Influence, where he demystifies all the fundamentals of influence, and gives us the basics we need to know (if we are of interest) to generate more positive outcomes both in the organisations as well as in the private life.

‘Influence is the art of getting others to take your lead – to believe, think in a way you want them to believe, think in a way you want them to think, or do something you want them to do’

Can you become better in influencing other ? Everybody can be better at influencing, however it depends on how you choose to look at the world, and if you are open to alternative ways of seeing the world and accept other peoples meanings and opinions, this should help you on your way. Bacon; “Most people do not naturally excel at influencing, in part because influencing effectively requires a great deal of adaptability, perceptiveness, and insight into other people, and in part because influence has cultural variations, and we learn to influence almost exclusively from within our own cultural lens”.

Experiencing living in many different cultures during childhood, makes us more humble and understandable towards people in other cultures. Bacon; “Influencing effectively requires an adaptive mindset, and influencing effectively across cultures require a global mindset. To some extent, a global mindset is a product of your psychology, your willingness to accept others as they are instead of wishing them to be more like yourself. And it is a product of both self-acceptance and acceptance of others”.

Kraut et al, has some insights about establishing a strong culture; “Culture is intended to do what other aspects of the leading role do for individuals and small groups, encourage the best efforts of people, by aligning their interests with the needs of the organisation. In contrast to decision – making as a form of controlling, culture is decision shaping as a form of leading”. (My blog; Organizational Culture, 2014)

Bacon; “What works in Mexico may not work as well in Malaysia, just as the openness and informality typical in Australia, even in business settings, may not be as acceptable in Germany or the Netherlands (In fact, it could cause suspicion). Influence effectiveness depends in part on the conventions, values, and beliefs prevalent in every culture”.

As a leader, the way you choose to influence other people can make a big difference, both in positive ways as in negative ways. Bacon, tells us that leaders lead by mobilising people. They inspire them to follow, and show them the possibilities as well as motivates them to realise those possibilities. Bacon; “They energise and focus people in ways that fulfil their dreams, give them a sense of purpose, and leave them with a profound sense of accomplishment when the work is done”. Bacon, makes us aware that leaders encourage new ways of looking at situations, and by doing so, they give people the words and the courage to make those new ways their own. Bacon; “The best leaders are teachers, mentors, and role models – and they accomplish the vast majority of their work through influence, not authority”.

James Borg, illustrates skills with good magicians who are masters in loosely called people skills. Why ? They had to persuade their audience. First the audience’s attention, second they would use the ‘right’ wordslisten carefully to any volunteers and make them remember the things they wanted them to remember. The magician would work out the type of person they were dealing with, and observe the body language and get the trust from the audience. This is a great demonstration of people skills in action. (From my blog: The Art of Persuasion)

Ethical influence is without forcing, and authority and the person being influenced is open to the influence and has a choice and right to say yes or no.

Bad and unethical influence happens by people with no scruples, and is destructive. Bacon; “Throughout human history, tyrants, dictators, and thugs have known that people can control others and impose their will – sometimes over millions of people – through force, brutality, intimidation, and murder. In The Prince, Machiavelli said that it is better to be feared than loved, if you cannot be both.

Dark – side influence tactics take away people’s legitimate right to say no, force them to comply with something contrary to their wishes or best interests. mislead them, or make them act when they would otherwise choose not to.

Leonardo Da Vinci astutely observed that the average person looks without seeing, listens without hearing, touches without feeling, eat without tasting, moves without physical awareness, inhales without awareness of odour or fragnance, and talks without thinking. (From my blog; The Art of Persuasion)

Here Da Vinci gives us a wake-up call, and makes us aware of the importance of taking care of each other.

Inspiration is a key-element in leading people, as well as conveying energy and enthusiasm. Bacon; “Dull lethargic speakers leave people unengaged and unconvinced. To light a fire, you need some spark. It’s extraordinary that listening makes such a difference, too. Great and inspirational leaders are good listeners as well as great speakers”. No doubt, effective listening is how masters of inspirational appeals develop their insight into what others value, and knowing what others value enables them to appeal to the right ones.

In recent years, social scientists led by Todd Trash, have demystified the phenomenon of inspiration; “At its core, inspiration is what happens when a person feels stimulated to bring some new idea to life after becoming spontaneously aware of new possibilities”. (Harvard business review; You don’t need charisma to be inspiring, 2015)

Bacon makes us aware that leadership has changed, earlier leadership may have been about commanding and controlling, but not anymore. “Leaders don’t accomplish their goals by directing others to perform tasks, and they don’t inspire engagement and commitment by using the heavy hammer of power. Instead they articulate values and vision, appeal to those values in their communications, model the behaviours they want others to embody, and teach others how to accomplish the goals”.

Leaders need to act as good role models or as a teacher, coach, or counsellor. Bacon; “The skills most closely correlated with effective modelling reinforce the importance of teaching and coaching: Supporting and encouraging others, taking the initiative to show others how to do things, building rapport and trust, speaking conversationally, showing genuine interest in others, logical reasoning, behaving self-confidently, and listening”.

What lies behind you and what lies in front of you, pales in comparison to what lies inside of you.   ——Ralph Waldo Emerson

Author; Inger Lise E Greger, MSc Change Management

https://inger-lise.net/page/2/








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